The battle between the music streaming service provides continues. This time, it’s Spotify vs Rdio. Alike in many aspects, each has their own defining characteristics and offer unique music listening experiences. Both provide music lovers with a vast collection of tunes, both new and old, but which one reigns supreme? Read on to find out!

Background

Created by Skype founder, Rdio (pronounced ar-dee-o) is an ad-free music subscription service that’s available in several countries, including the US, Canada, Germany, Brazil, Australia, Spain, Portugal and New Zealand. Spotify has been since 2008 and first started in Europe but is available practically everywhere.

Compatible Devices

Rdio doesn’t have quite the extensive list of compatible apps like Spotify. Currently, it’s available on iOS devices, Android, Blackberry, Windows phones, PC, Sonos and Roku devices. Spotify works with Android, iOS devices, Android, PC, and numerous home devices that include, Boxee, Sonos, Logitech’s Squeezebox Touch or Radio, Onkyo home cinema receivers, WD TV Live or WD TV Live Hub media player, TeliaSonera digital TV and Philips Streamium Wireless Hi-Fi component systems.

Winner: Spotify

Computer Application

Rdio’s computer desktop interface is much cleaner and features larger type, allowing you to see everything much clearer. It’s also much easier to navigate for first-time users. Its landing page features artists heavy in rotation for you and your network. Browsing your collection can be done in a couple of ways: a chart of frequently listened to artists, album grid, song list or searching the Rdio catalogue. Like Spotify, Rdio scans your current music library, but where it gets into trouble is when it scans music that it doesn’t have (ie. The Beatles and Led Zeppelin), which you can’t listen to at all in Rdio. Also, songs that have any parenthesis in them aren’t included given it uses brackets instead, so you might find some song favorites left out.

Rdio does have a pretty good music discovery tools. You can follow other users and scan their collections to your own, as well as subscribe to their playlists. The Browse Music button shows new releases and displays what’s popular on Rdio, as well as gives you recommendations based on what’s in your collection

Where as Rdio has a blue and white scheme, Spotify is all grey and sort of dull. The audio controls are at the bottom of the desktop app, with the search bar on top and category lists on the left hand side similar to that of iTunes. Actually, a lot of it works similar to iTunes, with local tracks are can be sorted alphabetically by artist, song, or album. You can scroll through your local tracks or search for something using the bar at the top. The homepage of Spotify shows you “What’s New,” which is also the first category to the left. There it shows you new releases, trending playlists, and so forth. To the far right is the Twitter-like feed of what your friends have been listening to. As far as your local library, Spotify will scan it all and mix it into the songs within the service, allowing you to hear songs from both libraries. Overall, its searches are pretty fast with music streaming as soon as you click on a song you want to here. It doesn’t have a recommendation engine, but there is still info on related artists on actual artist pages that also include tabs like Overview, Bio and more. What’s big right now on Spotify is the Apps section that you can add to your category list to help enhance your music listening experience.

Both services offer free trials for those wanting to test out its paid services, as well as offer a free desktop version with limitations.

Winner: Rdio’s non-complicated and straight forward interface is easier to maneuver.

Mobile Application

Rdio makes it quite easy for you to send music from the desktop interface to the mobile app, with two clicks allowing you to send artists, albums, playlists and more. The mobile app features a modified version of their easy +Button that adds things to your local storage over 3G or Wi-Fi. Like Spotify, Rdio has online and offline functionality. When using 3G or Wi-Fi, you have access to their entire music catalogue. The mobile app changes colors when you’re using it offline, which is a cool little feature so that you immediately know you’re offline. But you can’t search your locally stored tracks when in offline though. The mobile interface is pretty straight forward like its computer-based version.

Like Rdio, Spotify’s mobile app is a lot similar to its desktop one, but without the extra apps. Searches can take some time, while more than one device can access the mobile account with a premium subscription, but only one device can be online at the same time. But if you go offline, all devices can use it at once. The mobile app doesn’t have the related artist tab or many of the tabs found on the desktop version, which can make discovery a bit frustrating. Going from track to track is pretty easy and it’s strongest asset is that it syncs tracks you already own even if they’re not available in Spotify’s streaming service so playlists will remain the same no matter what.

Winner: Rdio’s mobile app is easier to navigate.

Sound Quality

Spotify provides really good sound for its premium subscription users, who can stream music at a higher bitrate of up to 320kbps on their computer, while the mobile has 160kbps (but there mobile devices does have a “low bandwidth” option of 96kbps). Rdio streams at 256kbp over Wi-Fi in the browser/desktop/mobile apps. But the 3G streams are of a lower quality that the company will not disclose and you can notice the difference.

Winner: Spotify has a better bitrate.

Social Capabilities

Rdio has a social layer built into every part of the service. Rdio allows you to share songs via a message blast that goes to Facebook, Twitter or another Rdio user. It’s possible to find your Twitter or Facebook friends who are also on Rdio and follow them. Rdio also allows you to stream what you’re listening to via Facebook. But Spofity actually has a great social tool in that it’s build right into Facebook, which used by many. You can also share your favorite playlists via Facebook, Twitter and e-mail.

Winner: Spotify since it’s more widely used on Facebook than Rdio

Catalog

Both have deals with the major record labels and distributors so they get most of the big releases and most up-to-date songs. Spotify says they have 15 million songs, adding about 10,000 new tracks every day. Rdio is said to have about more than 15 million songs, with new releases on point, but older jams might be harder to find.

Winner: Spotify has older songs

Membership Perks

For Rdio, music discovery is far superior to Spotify’s since you can check out new artists a lot easier than having to dig around for it in Spotify. In Rdio, you can browse through artists similar to those you like, see what’s in heavy rotation among your friends or all Rdio users, browse new releases or top charts, review recommendations. Spotify also integrates easily with iTunes and has this cool way of differentiating between full albums, singles, and albums the artist “appears on.”

Winner: Music discovery with Rdio beats out Spotify.

Limitations

Rdio has a smaller music catalog, which can bug real music lovers. You also can’t play any podcasts of any kind whereas with Spotify, if you have subscriptions on iTunes they will show up in your Spotify library and with one click you can send them to a mobile playlist. Spotify also has duplicate search results which can be bothersome. Rdio usually takes anywhere form 2-5 seconds to start placing with as much as 10 on the mobile app, where Spotify plays immediately.

Winner: Tie, they both have their drawbacks.

Pricing

Spotify’s pricing is broken down into two tiers: $4.99/month for Unlimited, which includes add-free listening on your computer only and then there’s a $9.99/month for their Premium service, which includes ad-free listening, better sound quality and mobile app accessibility on one device at a time. Rdio has three tiers for its pricing: $4.99/month for unlimited web streaming with no ads, $9.99/month for unlimited web streaming with mobile access, and $17.99/month for 2 unlimited subscriptions (three for $22.99).

Winner: Tie since they’re prices the same (except for Rdio’s Unlimited Family plan that adds more subscriptions).

Overall Winner

It was a tough choice since they both offer great ways to listen to music. It was really a close one, but Spofity still came out top in the end. It has more songs and plays nice with your iTunes library, which is always a good thing. And it’s used by lots of your Facebook friends so showing off what you’re listening to is much easier.



Kristie Bertucci

 
Kristie Bertucci is an L.A.-based writer, who can't live without her MacBook Pro. When she's not writing, she's either reading or shopping (online, of course) and loves lazy days so she can catch up on her DVR-recorded shows and movies. She's definitely a Mac girl, she loves music and is currently on a mission to to have an insane and enviable iTunes library.